Colten Jackson Journal
March 10, 2014
Morning: GVCS discussion, design session
Woke up and made a pot of coffee, collaboratively planned a breakfast. Basically made a pot of eggs to feed 12. Put on the Bandcamp Weekly radio for some tunes. Always have some chill music going, why not?
Enjoyed hearing about Marcin's big ideas of what the Factor E Farm will be. Got my mind going - for those of us in college, this might be the first real hands-on project planning-and-execution we've ever done. As I participated in the enginnering/design process for a soil pulverizer, I thought to myself, "how could you ever decide you're going to university to be an engineer if you never had the opportunity to be on an engineering team first, to see if you enjoy it. Other "global villages" can offer an auxiliary education, learning a lot of skills you're probably not going to learn in a classroom. I've found you retain new knowledge way better if you have a project you need that knowledge for - everyone here is dedicated to progressing the projects at Factor E Farm, and so we're going to be more focused on learning whatever we can to help.
Oh! Had a thought provoked by Marcin explaining that the Global Village Construction Set isn't just for starting in the middle of nowhere, but potentially as an alternative to suburban housing developments: instead of neighborhoods designed to consume, this is one designed to produce: energy, food, new inventions. A neighborhood designed to produce things of value, to always progress and become re-invented over time. I think it sounds like a much more fulfilling way to live.
I've often found myself wondering about this strange dynamic between urban and rural cities that has existed ever since we started farming the fields and concentrating our population in city centers. The political and military might of the city protects the peasants, and is reliant on the food the create, but there's always been strife there. Peasants that feel they're completely self-sufficient, what do they need a city for? The city has existed to facilitate the flow of goods (trade, cultural exchange), but also to concentrate wealth. So the rural livelihood has become increasingly associated with poverty. I see the GVCS as a way to buck that trend - whether you're in the country or the city, you can be self-sufficient, and also a part of a global network trading ideas - even trading items online, through sharing the CAD files or designs that can be 3D printed (or knitted!)
We had a morning work period involving a design challenge. Mostly I noted some issues where we got bogged down - We probably spent 20-30 minutes exchanging login information and getting our wi-fi to work. Ben and I started discussing possible solutions: locally hosted documentation. Perhaps a local install of Etherpad? A network drive that we can access as soon as we connect to the wifi (or have hardwired cat5e, even less room for errors) would be immensely helpful. But, that's a project in itself. Ever Global Village is going to face these problems when trying to do computer-aided collaboration. Certainly some of them will be off-the grid without internet access, so locally hosted software would be the only way to go.
We also spent a chunk of time trying to deliberate design responsibilities, how can we work on 3D CAD together? Have everyone download SketchUp? Those of us with modelling experience each have our own program that we're familiar with - we'll work a lot faster with what we know, instead of stumbling into new software. As long as we can export a standard file format into a common repository I think we would be fine.
Afternoon: Microhouse, mud-plaster
Took a few panoramas after lunch. Went to the Microhouse to learn what they're doing here with earthen construction. Got more mud on me than ever before. Chatted with Anthony while slinging mud onto the walls. We were talking about how maybe it didn't seem like the best use of our skills, we could be solving problems of chemistry, design, networking or something, but here we are making mud and applying it to the walls. And for the moment I agreed, feeling like it wasn't the best use of my time...but I changed my mind since then. We were seeing what it was like to construct one of the designs that may be replicated by who-knows-how-many-people - and not only is that an important activity for designers to do - to see what the designs are really like in real life - but we're trying to construct an economically just future, and I see that as a break-down in the social stratification. Yes, it's more "efficient" for me to do whatever I'm good at to make money (say, web design for $25/hour) and pay someone who doesn't have a high-paying skill $7/hour to do the mudslinging for me, but that reinforces separate social classes. What I'm saying here is that it's socially just for people to build their own houses, no matter how much money